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Superhero movies are the most popular genre in film right now. They are responsible for huge chunks of the box office,and they're often blamed when more traditional dramas don't find an audience at the movie theater. However, Tom Hanks recently found a connection between his recent film and the superhero genre, as he says putting on the costume of Mr. Rogers was akin to dressing as a popular superhero.
The costumes of superhero movies are iconic, but then again, for a lot of people, so is that cardigan sweater worn by Fred Rogers in every episode of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. In a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Tom Hanks compares dressing like Mr. Rogers to dressing like Batman. According to Hanks...
A lot of that power came from the way people reacted to Tom Hanks when he was dressed as Fred Rogers. Much of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood was filmed in Pittsburgh, PA and at WQED, the same public television station where Mr. Roger's Neighborhood was produced. Tom Hanks says that people reacted to him with a combination of awe and reverence whenever they saw him in costume.
Fred Rogers made his television show for so long that multiple generations grew up watching it. He was an important part of the formative years of many of us. He's from the same period of time where many of us were first introduced to superheros as well, so the fact that the two might cause similar reactions in people probably isn't all that surprising.
Tom Hanks is viewed by many as one of the nicest people in Hollywood, and so the choice of Hanks to play Fred Rogers feels like the sort of perfect casting decision that fans of superhero movies are always looking for. He fits the role perfectly, almost as if you were seeing the real man back on the screen once again.
Of course, Mr. Rogers is a bit of a different case because the comic book superheros don't really exist and Fred Rogers really did. He was a man who, based on the new movie, and the recent documentary, Won't You Be My Neighbor?, really was exactly the man that he appeared to be on television. Of course, those qualities are what make him as mythic as the most noble superheroes.
Check out Tom Hanks complete comments about becoming Mr. Rogers, including the feeling of putting on the magic sweater, in the clip below.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood really put a real life superhero on the screen. The comic book versions have always been there to inspire us and that sweater might as well be a cape. The movie is in theaters now.